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Cabbage & Hypothyroidism

By Jill Corleone

About 5 percent of the U.S. population has hypothyroidism, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which your thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Low levels of thyroid hormones decrease your body's metabolism. Cabbage is high in iodine, and consuming excessive amounts of cabbage may increase your risk of developing hypothyroidism, although the data is inconclusive.


Hypothyroidism is a common illness, but affects women more often than men. It has many causes, but Hashimoto's disease is the most common. Hashimoto's is an autoimmune disorder that causes your immune system to attack the thyroid, limiting its ability to produce its hormone. Other causes of hypothyroidism include inflammation of the thyroid, congenital hypothyroid, surgical removal of the thyroid gland, radiation to the thyroid or certain medication. Doctors treat hypothyroidism with medication that acts as a replacement for the hormone. In addition to slowing your metabolism, hypothyroidism increases your risk of weight gain and high blood cholesterol.

Iodine and Hypothyroidism

Iodine is an essential trace element your body needs to produce the thyroid hormone. Inadequate intake of iodine causes thyroid enlargement, referred to as a goiter. It can also lead to the development of hypothyroidism. Iodine deficiency can affect anyone, but is most detrimental to children and their developing brains. Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of preventable brain damage in the world, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.

Cabbage and Hypothyroidism

Consuming excessive amounts of cabbage has a link to the development of hypothyroidism in animals, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. However, researchers have not seen this in adults. One case study tells of an 88-year-old woman who developed severe hypothyroidism after consuming raw bok choy, an Asian cabbage, for several months. It appears that components in the cabbage interfere with the uptake of iodine by your thyroid, causing a deficiency, goiter formation, and hypothyroidism if prolonged.


Only limited data exists regarding the consumption of cabbage and the development of hypothyroidism. Cabbage offers a number health benefits that far outweigh its possible link to hypothyroidism development. The sulfur-containing compound in cabbage, the component that contributes to its odor, may offer protection against cancer. In addition, cabbage is low in calories, high in vitamin C and a good source of fiber. A 1-cup serving of raw chopped cabbage contains 22 calories, 32 mg of vitamin C and 2.2 g of fiber.

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